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Hebrews Nine

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

Hebrews 9:1 Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.

Hebrews 9:2 For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the showbread; which is called the sanctuary.

tabernacle. The design of the tabernacle in the wilderness, with its appurtenances, is described specifically in Exodus 25-27. Many of these details, as well as the worship services specified for the tabernacle, were models of the heavenly tabernacle and types of the spiritual ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, our great High Priest (note Hebrews 9:9, 23-24).

Hebrews 9:3 And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all;

Holiest of all. Also called “the most holy place” (Exodus 26:34). In extra-Biblical writings, it has been called “the Holy of holies.” This chamber could only be entered once a year on the great Day of Atonement, and then only by the high priest, to present sacrificial blood for all the people (Hebrews 9:25; see Leviticus 16).

Hebrews 9:4 Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;

golden censer. The golden censer was only brought into the holiest place on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:12-15), burning incense with coals from the altar, so the cloud of incense would cover the mercy seat where the sacrificial blood was to be sprinkled.

golden pot. See Exodus 16:33.

rod that budded. See Numbers 17:10.

tables of the covenant. These were the two tables of the law, containing God's Ten Commandments (Deuteronomy 10:2-5).

Hebrews 9:5 And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly.

cherubims of glory. The carved figures of the cherubims overshadowed the mercy seat (Exodus 25:18-20), guarding access to God, just as the true cherubims guarded the entrance to Eden after the expulsion of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:24).

mercyseat. “Mercy seat” is a translation of the same Greek word translated “propitiation” in Romans 3:25. It was the place where the high priest offered the blood of the propitiatory sacrifice for the sins of the people.

Hebrews 9:6 Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God.

Hebrews 9:7 But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people:

Hebrews 9:8 The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:

Hebrews 9:9 Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;

figure. “Figure” is from the Greek parabole, from which we get “parable.” The wilderness tabernacle with its various services was a sort of parable or picture of Christ's ministry in the heavenly tabernacle.

Hebrews 9:10 Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.

Hebrews 9:11 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;

Hebrews 9:12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

Hebrews 9:13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:

Hebrews 9:14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

through the eternal Spirit. Note the implicit reference here to the Trinity: “ ... the blood of Christ ... through the eternal Spirit offered ... to God.” Note also Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 2:18; Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14; John 14:26; 15:26-27.

Hebrews 9:15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

new testament. This is the same Greek word (diatheke) translated “covenant” elsewhere (Hebrews 8:7-8, etc.). The reference here is not to the Old and New Testaments as the two divisions of the Bible, but rather to the contrast between God's old covenant with Israel under the Mosaic law and the new covenant with both Jewish and Gentile believers as sealed by the blood of Christ (Hebrews 9:12).

Hebrews 9:16 For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.

death. Although not all covenants require death on the part of one making the covenant before they come into force, the particular type of covenant involved in a will does, and this is the type of covenant in view here. The first covenant made by God with man (at least the first actually called a covenant) was the unconditional covenant made with Noah after the Flood (Genesis 9:9, 11-13, 15-17), following the sacrifice of clean animals when they came out of the ark (Genesis 8:20). Similarly, His unconditional covenant with Abraham followed a sacrifice of five animals (Genesis 15:9-10, 17-18). When God gave the law to Israel on Mount Sinai, He made a covenant with them (Exodus 19:5-6) conditioned on their obedience, and this was accompanied by burnt offerings and peace offerings and the sprinkling of “the blood of the covenant” (Exodus 24:5-8). However, all of these offerings of animals were only temporal and typical, prefiguring and prophesying the eternal offering of the blood of Christ and the making of the new covenant. Thus, in the case of these particular covenants made by God with man, death was required to bring them into operation, so that the Mosaic covenant and Christian covenant in effect become “testaments” or wills. The translators appropriately used this word under these circumstances, and it is altogether fitting that the two divisions of the Bible, centering on the covenants of law and grace respectively, became known as the Old Testament and New Testament.

testator. The word translated “testator” (Greek diatithemai) means simply “the one who made it (i.e., the covenant).” Not all covenants require the death of one or both of the covenanters, but the particular covenants being discussed in this section of Hebrews do involve death. The men with whom God was making the covenants all were under the judgment of death because of sin, but God Himself covenanted to die in their place, although they may not have understood its full implications at the time. In prophetic symbolism, both man's merited death and God's future substitutionary death were pictured by the animal sacrifices of the earlier covenants, then finally fulfilled by the once-for-all death of God in Christ. All of these were sealed, as it were, by the “shedding of blood” (Hebrews 9:22) and their terms appropriated and effectuated by the faith of the men who received them in the covenant promises of God.

Hebrews 9:17 For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.

Hebrews 9:18 Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood.

Hebrews 9:19 For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people,

Hebrews 9:20 Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you.

Saying. Compare the words of Christ concerning the blood of the new covenant (Matthew 26:28) with those of Moses concerning the blood of the old covenant (Exodus 24:8).

Hebrews 9:21 Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry.

Hebrews 9:22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.

without shedding of blood. Many liberal theologians (and a growing number of evangelicals) argue that references to “the shedding of blood” are merely metaphorical, the essential point being that a sacrificial death has occurred. Thus, they say, it was Christ's death for our sins that was the redemption price for our salvation, not His blood—which, after all, was just a fluid, no different after being shed than before. The fact is, however, that there are many ways a man (or a sacrificial animal) may die, but mere death is not enough. “The life of the flesh is in the blood” (Leviticus 17:11) and “without shedding of blood is no remission.” No other type of death could purchase our salvation. Therefore, “we have redemption through His blood” (Ephesians 1:7), He “made peace through the blood” (Colossians 1:20), He “washed us from our sins in His own blood” (Revelation 1:5), and we are now justified “through faith in His blood” (Romans 3:25).

is no remission. Thus, without the shedding of Christ's blood, there can be no salvation. It is conceivable that He could have died in other ways, but remission of our sins required not just His death, but death through the shedding of His precious blood (1 Peter 1:19).

Hebrews 9:23 It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

Hebrews 9:24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:

figures of the true. Thus the wilderness tabernacle and the temple in Jerusalem were only “figures of the true” tabernacle. The latter is not only a structure in heaven, but in a sense is “heaven itself.”

now to appear. There are three different “appearings” of Christ mentioned in this chapter, using three different Greek words. Hebrews 9:26 speaks of the past appearing, when “He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. Hebrews 9:28 speaks of His future appearing, when He shall “appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” His present appearance, however, is in “heaven itself,” where He “ever liveth to make intercession for us” (Hebrews 7:25).

Hebrews 9:25 Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;

Hebrews 9:26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

once to die. Enoch and Elijah seem to have been exceptions to this principle (Genesis 5:24; 2 Kings 2:11), but they will probably return to the earth in the last days, and then die (see notes on Revelation 11:3-12). There will be one great exception, of course, for the saints living on earth when Christ returns (1 Corinthians 15:51-53), but all (even those who will be living at that time) must prepare for death, for no one can be sure he will not die before Christ comes.

Hebrews 9:28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

bear. “Bear” here is the same word as “offer up” in Hebrews 7:27. Christ not only bore the penalty of our sins on the cross, but also offered up His sacrificial blood to the Father as proof thereof (contrast Hebrews 9:24-25). Israel's high priest offered up the blood of animals as an atonement for sins. Our High Priest offered up Himself!

look for him. To “look for Him” means to “expectantly wait for Him,” knowing that He might come at any time. There is nothing in the whole scope of prophesied events in the last days that must be fulfilled before He comes. Many of these events could happen before His return, but none must happen. We should “look for Him” every day and “love His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8).